The facade, once faded green, has now been painted a blissful, institutional yellow.
I drive by on my way to my new home. This new home doesn't quite fit me. I feel like a man who has been forced to walk barefooted and considers himself lucky to have found someone else's discarded shoes. I know I should feel grateful to be shod at all, and yet, these shoes do not fit me, they were not made for me and no matter how hard I try I cannot force myself into feeling that these are now my shoes. They are good shoes. Well, good enough shoes anyway… they are not my shoes. However long I may wear them, they will never bring me comfort, only a blister on my heel to remind me that I should be grateful. I force myself to feel grateful.
I see the pink babydoll buggy lying abandoned in the front yard. The garage door is half open revealing a sterile orderliness. Tools hung in their right places on a peg board. Boxes stacked neatly against one wall. God does like a neat tidy package, perhaps that's where we went wrong? Too frenetic in our desires, too much in love with life, too chaotic in our security, we filled it with our loud voices and the things we had acquired in our travels, our music and all of the miscellany that comes with years. From elementary school finger paintings to high school year books, we crammed it all in – knowing that this was our home. Or would someday be. Perhaps that is why? Because we had the audacity to assume our future.
I have seen them of course. I know them. They know me. But not in a way that's personal, not intimately, like old friends who share their darkest secrets. Yet they do know my darkest secret, they've glimpsed a part of my shame. Without this we might have been friends. Might have walked our children to school together or stood by our mailboxes and chatted about growing tomatoes or trimming the hedges. As it is now I feel the sting of red in my cheeks whenever they approach, I move away quickly lest they recognize my stain.
Still, they are good people. They took the time to ask other neighbors where we might have gone. They gathered the mail that came in our name in little rubber-banded bundles and saved it for us. When they found us they gave us the mail, and some of the items that haste had made us leave behind. Important things, a baby picture here, a book that showed our fervent adoration in its well-worn cover and broken binding. Other things that they felt might have significance to a family with children, they would know these items, recognize them immediately, they are a family as well. I know they are good people. I hope for them that they find the shelter and security that we could not hold onto. I hope this house, this bright, friendly, yellow house, does not become an ami de cour as it did for us.
I drive up the street to my new house and feel the blister of my unfitting shoes.
I force myself to feel grateful.
For my house and thy house no help shall we find
Save thy house and my house — kin cleaving to kind;
If my house be taken, thine tumbleth anon.
If thy house be forfeit, mine followeth soon
"The Houses" – Rudyard Kipling